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Sabarimala Case: SC Refers Review Pleas To Larger, 7-Judge Bench

The CJI said that the endeavour of the petitioners was to revive the debate on religion and faith.



NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a seven-judge bench over 60 petitions seeking review of its 2018 judgment where it allowed women of all ages entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple. The bench will re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Also Read:
(1) #Sabarimala: Will Shut Down Temple if Tradition Violated, Says Head Priest
(2) #Sabarimala: Doors of Lord Ayyappa Temple Open Amid Huge Protests
(3) Justice Malhotra Lone Dissenting Voice as SC Allows Entry of Women of All Ages in Sabarimala Temple

Supreme Court today said that restrictions on women in religious places were not limited to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well.

Supreme Court, by a majority of 3:2, has referred the review petitions to a larger seven-judge bench. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud gave dissent judgement.

The verdict comes three days ahead of the opening of the Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, a “Naishtika Brahmachari” (Perennial celibate), on November 17 for the annual two-month-long pilgrim season.

However, the majority verdict did not say anything adverse against the apex court’s September 28, 2018 decision allowing women to enter the shrine nor did it stay the earlier judgement.

There is no clarity whether women can enter the shrine, which is scheduled to open for worship from November 17.

The Apex Court said that the larger bench will decide all such religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women in mosques and practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi read the verdict on behalf of himself and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra.

The CJI said that the endeavour of the petitioners was to revive the debate on religion and faith.

He added that the apex court should evolve a common policy on religious places like Sabarimala and added that the larger bench will decide the issues relating to this Hindu shrine, entry of women into mosques and practice of female genital mutilation.

The split 3:2 decision came on 65 petitions — 56 review petitions, four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas — which were filed against the earlier 4:1 verdict

The five-judge Constitution heard in an open court the pleas by the parties, including the Nair Service Society(NSS), the Sabarimala temple’s Head Priest, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the state’s Left Democratic Front(LDF) government.

The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, in September 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala. It had also held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.

The court understood the feelings of the devotees and transferred the petitions to be reviewed by a seven-judge bench. We feel relieved and happy that the Supreme Court has decided to review its earlier verdict. This is Lord Ayyappa’s blessing,” said Sasikumar Verma, a Pandalam Royal family member who is one of the petitioners.

However, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan was less enthusiastic about the Sabarimala verdict:

There needs to be more clarity on this judgement. A five-member bench has given a majority judgement. We have already made it clear that the government is committed to comply by the Supreme Court judgment no matter what it is. As of now, we are given to understand that the first verdict is still in place. We need to understand the impact of this verdict and will seek legal opinions. Now we are understanding that the SC judgement of September 28 is still in place, but we are unclear about the implications. We will have to seek the opinion from the experts. We need more time for this.”

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US Casino Urged To Remove Statues Of Hindu And Jain Deities And Apologize

Such denigration of sacred deities was hurtful to the devotees.



LAS VEGAS (United States):  In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Christian-Hindu-Buddhist-Jewish-Jain religious leaders have urged the Las Vegas casino Mandalay Bay to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club, calling it highly inappropriate.

Nevada’s Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, prominent Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher, well-known Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, and renowned Jain leader Sulekh C. Jain, in a joint statement in Nevada today said that placing highly revered Hindu and Jain deities to adorn a casino night-club was very disrespectful, out-of-line, and could be disturbing to the adherents of these faiths.

Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer-Jain urged William Hornbuckle and Paul Salem, Acting CEO and Board Chairman respectively of MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay Casino, to offer a formal apology to Hindu and Jain communities for this insensitivity.

Rajan Zed, a veteran Hindu activist, pointed out that Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, goddess Saraswati, etc. were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in a casino night club for dramatic effects or mercantile/other agenda.

Such denigration of sacred deities was hurtful to the devotees.

Sulekh C. Jain stressed that Pratima (statue) of Lord Mahavira belonged in a temple for veneration and not to be misused or mishandled by the patrons of a night club.

He suggested that the Mandalay Bay Casino could donate it to a Jain temple and the Jain community would gladly pay for its transportation.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.

Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer-Jain further said that they, the faith leaders, were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers.

Description of Foundation Room, whose tagline is “Good Karma Awaits”, includes: Immerse yourself in our DEITY dancer experience; party the night away amidst the Vegas lights with these out of this world Nightlife Goddess’s; who add the perfect touch of high-class debauchery”.

This “luxurious den for the city’s elite to socialize, scandalize, and sip in high style”, located on 63rd floor of Mandalay Bay, operates from five pm to three am.

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is set on 120 lush acres featuring Mandalay Bay Beach, a tropical pool paradise with real sand.

MGM Resorts International is an S&P 500 global entertainment company with 29 unique hotel and destination gaming offerings in the United States and Macau.

Casino owners issue apology

The Foundation Room, the owners of the  Resort and Casino in Las Vegas where the sacred idols were placed, has since removed the statues from the venue and issued an apology and assured to never repeat such insensitive depiction.

The Foundation Room’s two-decade plus tradition of promoting racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence is more important than ever. We deeply apologize to those who are offended by recent images and we will work diligently to ensure such insensitive depictions don’t happen again. Specifically, we are removing the statue Mahavira from our premises. We have always strived to promote dialogue to bring us closer together and are committed to this sentiment moving forward,” the statement read.

The statement did not mention if the statue of Lord Ganesha was removed from the venue.

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World-Renowned, Divine Rath Yatra Begins In Puri; To Follow COVID-19 Restrictions

The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30 a.m. The chariots will be pulled thereafter around 12 noon.



PURI (Odisha): The Bhagwan Shri Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, one of India’s biggest religious festivals, is underway on Tuesday in the temple town in Odisha amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Traditionally, more than 10 lakh devotees adhering to the Sanatan Dharm converge in Puri during the festivities but this year people will not be allowed after the Supreme Court placed several conditions, including the imposition of a curfew in Puri during the festivities.

The chariots of the Lords Jagannath and Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra will be pulled only by the selective servitors and police officials.

The Supreme Court Monday asked the Odisha government to make necessary arrangements to conduct Puri’s Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from June 23, in a restricted manner in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The apex court also said it cannot “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the wisdom of state, the Centre and temple management to deal with that issue.

“If it is confined to Puri alone in a limited way without public attendance as proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple administration, state govt will endeavour to make necessary arrangements to conduct it accordingly,” the SC bench said.

The apex court has also directed that the govt should impose curfew in Puri during procession. The Odisha government imposed a shutdown in Puri district from 9 pm on Monday till 2 pm on Wednesday.

The rituals for the world-famous Rath Yatra have started with Mangal Aarati followed by Mailam, Tadaplagi, Rosha hom, Aabakasha and Surya puja. The Pahandi ritual has also begun.

The siblings, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, will board the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10 in the morning.

The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30 a.m. The chariots will be pulled thereafter around 12 noon.

Here is all about the Rath Yatra festival in Puri:

ॐ Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are usually worshipped in the sanctum of the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri. They are brought out of the temple every year on the second day of the third Hindu month of Asadha onto the Bada Danda street of Puri in three huge chariots accompanied by Sudarshana Chakra.

ॐ The nine-day Rath Yatra, or the chariot procession, celebrates this annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, 2.5km away. The Gundicha Temple is their aunt’s home.

ॐ The rituals for Rath Yatra will begin at 3am inside the 12th-century shrine.

ॐ The Pahandi ritual (procession) will begin at 7am and the deities will board the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10am. The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30am. The chariots will be pulled thereafter at around 12pm.

ॐ The three deities are taken in the massive wooden chariots weighing 85 tonnes each. After staying in Gundicha temple for nine days, the three deities come back to the Jagannath Temple on the 10th day in a return journey.

ॐ Lord Jagannath’s chariot Nandighosa is 45.6 feet in height and has 18 wheels. The 45- feet chariot of Lord Balaram comes with 16 wheels and is known as Taladhvaja and Devadalana is Goddess Subhadra’s 44.6 feet chariot with 14 wheels.

ॐ The chariots are built every year only from a particular type of tree.

ॐ Thousands of devotees pull the chariots to their aunt’s temple, the Gundicha Temple. It is considered to be a good omen and is also believed to bring luck and success if one gets a chance to pull the chariots.

ॐ The deities stay at the Gundicha Temple for nine days, after which they ride the chariots back to their Jagannath Temple, a journey known as Bahuda Jatra.

ॐ The chariots on the way back stop at the Mausi Ma Temple or home of Lord Jagannath’s aunt. The deities are offered Poda Pitha, a special pancake which said to be the favourite of Lord Jagannath, at the Mausi Ma Temple.

ॐ In the 425 years of the Rath Yatra, the event has been stopped 32 times, mostly during invasions.

ॐ It was not held for the first time in 1568 when Kala Pahad alias Kala Chand Roy, a general of Bengal king Suleiman Kirrani, attacked the temple and pillaged the deities.

ॐ The last time it could not be held was between 1733 and 1735 when Mohammed Taqi Khan, deputy governor of Odisha, attacked the Jagannath temple, forcing the shifting of the idols to Ganjam district.

Impact of COVID-19:

After the Supreme court’s decision in favour of Rath Yatra, the District Administration has imposed a curfew in Puri for the Yatra.

The public has been requested not to enter any part of the district during this period. Around fifty platoons of police have been deployed.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has made a special appeal to the people of Puri to observe COVID guidelines and keep themselves and their families safe.

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Uttar Pradesh Amends 65-Year-Old ‘Cow Slaughter (Prevention) Act, 1955’

The amendments are aimed to protect the cow and prevent crimes related to cow slaughter.



LUCKNOW (Uttar Pradesh): The Uttar Pradesh government has amended the 65 years old cow slaughter act of state and made stringent provisions in a new ordinance to stop cow slaughter in the state. The State Cabinet yesterday approved Cow-Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

Also Read: RESOURCE: What Is The “UP Prevention Of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955”?

The amendments are aimed to protect the cow and prevent crimes related to cow slaughter.

Cabinet observed that although there have been amendments to the original act of 1955, some loopholes were there because of which it was not implemented properly and reports of illegal cow slaughter were coming from different parts of the state.

The people involved in cow slaughter were getting bail and again get involved in such acts.

Under the new law, anyone found guilty of cow slaughter will have to face maximum 10-year jail term and Rs 5 lakh of fine.

The new section makes inflicting injury and torture with intent to endanger the life of a cow a punishable offence.

To name and shame offenders, the government will also put out pictures of those indulging in cow slaughtering and harming them in prominent public places across the area they reside.

In case someone does such a crime again after conviction then he will be punished with double penalty provided for this offence.

Section 5 of the ordinance suggests punishment for transportation of bovine animals.

If someone puts the life of a cow in danger by not providing food and water with the intention of endangering their life, rigorous imprisonment may be awarded for at least 1 year, which may extend to 7 years.

According to the proposed legislation, the expenditure incurred on the maintenance of the captured cows will be recovered from the owner of the vehicle for a period of one year or until the cow or bovine is released.

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